1. Alabama: Quarterback Greg McElroy, Heisman winner Mark Ingram and wide receiver Julio Jones return to the offense. The Crimson Tide lose some key defensive starters Terrence Cody, Javier Arenas and Rolando McClain), but you can be certain there is plenty of talent waiting to play.

2. Ohio State: Terrelle Pryor played very well in the Rose Bowl and he'll have his key skill players returning. The defense should one again be strong, especially with defensive tackle Cameron Heyward returning.

3. Boise State: Believe it or not, the Broncos had just five seniors on the roster this season. This team returns intact for 2010. Plus, non-conference games against Virginia Tech and Oregon State (if they are wins) will boost Boise State into the national championship picture.

4. Oregon: With Jeremiah Masoli and LaMichael James returning on offense and some key defensive starters back, the Ducks will be the favorites to win the Pac-10.

5. TCU: The Horned Frogs are another team that didn't have many seniors on the roster this season. All-American defensive end Jerry Hughes will be gone, but quarterback Andy Dalton returns.

6. Iowa: Losing offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga and cornerback Amari Spievey early to the NFL draft is a big blow. But quarterback Ricky Stanzi will return with both of his key wide receivers and the running duo of Adam Robinson and Brandon Wegher. Adrian Clayborn will be back to anchor a defense that needs to replace some very good linebackers.

7. Virginia Tech: The Hokies should be the favorites to win a competitive ACC next season. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor and running back Ryan Williams return.

8. Miami (Fla.): Miami showed flashes of being an elite team this season. The key next season will be the continued development of quarterback Jacory Harris -- and his ability to eliminate mistakes.

9. Nebraska: Yes, Ndamukong Suh is gone. But Nebraska's defense should once again be very strong. The key will be much-needed improvement from the offense.

10. Wisconsin: The Badgers should contend for the Big Ten title next season with running back John Clay returning. Quarterback Scott Tolzien, who also returns, was strong in the bowl win over Miami (Fla.).

advertisement | advertise on newsday

11. Texas: Losing Colt McCoy is huge. But Garrett Gilbert played well against Alabama after a rough start. The defense loses Lamarr Houston and Sergio Kindle, but should still be strong next season.

12. Florida: The Gators have to replace a lot, including Tim Tebow. John Brantley takes over at quarterback. The defense lost a ton of talent. Plus, the uncertainy involving the Urban Meyer situation is definitely worth watching.

13. Arkansas: Ryan Mallett and the rest of the Razorbacks' offense should be sensational next season. If the defense steps up, watch out in the SEC.

14. Penn State: The Nittany Lions have some nice talent returning. The key will be finding Daryll Clark's replacement. Plus, the schedule is brutal with away games against Alabama, Ohio State and Iowa.

15. USC: The defense should be better next season. It will be interesting to see whether Matt Barkley takes the next big step in his development as a quarterback. Losing Pete Carroll is huge. But there's still talent there.

16. Pittsburgh: Running back Dion Lewis could be a serious Heisman contender next season. Dave Wannstedt has recruited well so the talent is there for the Panthers.

17. Oregon State: Brothers Jacquizz and James Rodgers return to the Beavers' offense. That alone should make Oregon State a team to watch next season. Keeping Mike Riley was key.

18. Oklahoma: Landry Jones put up solid numbers in Sam Bradford's absence and had a huge game against Stanford in the Sun Bowl. Next season should be even better.

19. Missouri: Same as Arkansas. The Tigers have a big-time quarterback in Blaine Gabbert returning. The defense needs to be better next season.

20. North Carolina: Butch Davis will again have a solid defense. If North Carolina's offense improves, the Tar Heels will be in the mix for the ACC title.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

21. LSU: The Tigers will lose some key players. But quarterback Jordan Jefferson returns.

22. Arizona: Nick Foles returns at quarterback to lead what should be a good offense. The Wildcats need to get better defensively.

23. Cincinnati: It's Zach Collaros' team now. Even with Mardy Gilayrd gone, Collaros should put up huge numbers in that offense. But we already saw in the Sugar Bowl that Brian Kelly's loss will have a big impact.

24. Florida State: Christian Ponder is a big-time talent. The Seminoles need to solve their defensive problems.

25. Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets lost Demaryius Thomas, Jonathan Dwyer, Derrick Morgan and Morgan Burnett early to the NFL Draft. Quarterback Josh Nesbitt returns. The defense needs to get better.